In fact, notes Nate Hoffelder, a long-standing observer of the digital evolution of books, the exact opposite has happened in the past few years. He looked at membership at the American Booksellers Association, a non-profit that promotes the interests of independent book retailers, and found that its numbers had gone up every year for the past four years, from 1,401 in 2009 to 1,567 in 2012 (pdf). Another 65 companies joined the association this year, bringing the total up to 1,632. The actual number of bookstores is even greater….
Big bookstores are the ones most affected by Amazon’s dominance. Borders is long gone. Barnes and Noble isn’t in the best health. And Waterstones in Britain has started selling Kindles. The reason? There is very little difference between big, impersonal chain stores selling books and a big, impersonal website selling books. Independent retailers, on the other hand, have a lot to offer that Amazon cannot: niche coffee, atmosphere, serendipitous discoverability of new titles and authors, recommendations from knowledgable staff, signings and events, to name a few.